FAA Increases Sim-Time Limit


The FAA today published a final rule that allows student pilots to log up to 20 hours in flight simulators, finally reaching the end of a long and twisted regulatory path. The current rules allow only 10 hours to be logged, although many flight schools had permission from the FAA to log up to 20. The FAA tried to go straight-to-final-rule with the change in December 2014, but had to start over with the rule-making process when two commenters filed objections. The new rule takes effect May 12.

The rule allows Part 61 instrument students to log up to 10 hours in basic training devices, and up to 20 hours in advanced devices, with the combined total not to exceed 20 hours. Students at Part 141-approved flight schools can log up to 25 percent of creditable time in basic devices and 40 percent in advanced devices (not to exceed 40 percent total time). The prior 141 limit was 10 percent combined. The new rule also says students don’t have to wear a view-limiting device while in a simulator. “This rulemaking relieves burdens on pilots seeking to obtain aeronautical experience, training, and certification,” the FAA said. “These actions are necessary to bring the regulations in line with the current capabilities of aviation training devices and the needs and activities of the general aviation training community and pilots.”

AOPA and the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators both welcomed the changes. “AOPA pushed strongly for all of these changes,” said David Oord, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. “The new provisions will benefit the safety of training while significantly reducing the costs associated with it. Training using simulation has proven to be safe, effective, and economical for commercial aviation and we support its increased use in GA flight training.” A post at the SAFE blog also responded to the new rule: “SAFE has led the charge for approval of increased simulation credit and we are proud our proposal to the FAA is quoted extensively in the current NPRM. Flight simulation provides a huge opportunity for aviation educators and a superior, less expensive, training environment for clients at all courses and levels. For both initial and recurrent flight training, increased FAA credit for simulation is a huge win.”